Anderson: The problem with hoarding

A crumpled, yellowing A+ essay written for an art history course, a tired, tattered pair of saggy sweatpants from high school volleyball, an angst-ridden teenage journal filled with teardrops, pain and profanity. All of these things take up room in your world.

We pay to live in a space. Slowly, we obtain trophies that fill the place. We are all guilty of it.
They are inanimate objects that alone are meaningless, but combine to build a treasure trove of our history. Why do we hold these items so tightly? Are they the dog-eared pages that mark notable chapters in our lives? Are they a true representation of the paths we’ve walked?

Not really.
Spring cleaning is upon us. This means we are supposed to sift through our things, our precious, priceless stuff. We can ignore this chore for as long as possible. We can procrastinate by sorting it and then never taking it to the thrift store, or to the dumpster, where most of it truly belongs.

You have boxes of old notes from middle school, birthday cards from years ago, old clothes that, at the time, advertised your membership or ability in something. You hold onto these items as if they are the experience itself. You give personality, value and meaning to things that mark an important time in your past. This is fine, until it’s time to move it. You cannot comprehend the scope of all your crap until you have to sort it, place it into boxes and label it. How many boxes can you scrawl “odds n’ ends” on?

Will you ever squeeze back into those red skinny jeans you used to wear? Maybe, but we both know the honest answer is no. Yet, there they are, mean mugging you from the closet alongside your gang of punky, outdated and undersized teenage clothing from your glory days.

We justify living in larger spaces simply to accommodate all this stuff. Do I need to drag five shelves, seven lamps and a rickety, ratchet, old patio set to the new place? No. The answer is, and forever will be “no.”

Souvenirs, mementos, trinkets… call them what you will. The fact remains that it’s all just stuff. We assign significance to things because the hours and days are flashing before us at an alarming rate. Instinctively, we are afraid of change and in turn, growth. Transitioning means that we must leave our old self behind. Too quickly we forget that the walk is more important than the destination, and the amount of tacky cargo you amassed on the trip.

True significance is found in your own memories, in the experience of the time. Hold on to them. Visit them now and then. They are yours forever. They are all you’ll have when you are aged, tired, and sentimental. They belong to you.

Say yes when opportunities arise. Will you be in this moment again? No. You’ll never have another chance to do what you’re doing right now, with the people you are with.

Say yes to experience. Say yes to the memories. Say yes. Say it now.

Say no to the mass of junk that you hoard in your home, for no real reason, aside from being petrified to forget who you are at this crossroads of time and space.

Do not allow material items, or the pursuit of them distort what is truly important. Do not be enslaved by things. You’re much stronger than that. Trust me.